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The NHS if

‘The NHS if’ is a collection of essays that explores hypothetical scenarios and their impact on the future of health and care.

We spoke to a small number of experts – some of them members of staff at The King’s Fund and others external experts in their fields – to write short essays that consider ‘what if’ questions about health and care in England.

Our aim is to encourage new thinking and debate about possible future scenarios that could fundamentally change health and care. The essays cover three themes: the NHS and society; medicine, data and technology; and how the NHS works.

In each essay, the author gives their informed but personal view of a possible future. We invite you to let us know what you think and join the debate by adding your comments below the essays or by tweeting using the hashtag #NHSif.

The NHS and society

  • Blueprint illustration of health and social care in separate sections

    What if Beveridge were reporting today?

    Nicholas Timmins considers what William Beveridge, the founder of the welfare state, would think if he were to see health and care in 21st century Britain.

  • A plane flies across the sky

    What if the NHS were to go carbon neutral?

    Chris Naylor considers what it would be like if the NHS were to go carbon neutral.

  • Graphic of a person laying in bed, with another person next to them

    What if ‘assisted dying’ were to be legalised?

    The legalisation of assisted dying is an issue that divides opinion. In this essay Baroness Finlay argues against changing the law.

  • A graphic of someone holding a phone

    What if we eradicated obesity? Looking back from 2050

    Obesity is now reaching 'epidemic' proportions. David Buck imagines a world in which obesity has been eradicated.

Medicine, data and technology

How the NHS works

Essay competition

We challenged our readers to write an essay for ‘The NHS if’ series that would explore a future scenario for the NHS, considering the potential impact on the health system and wider society. Now, you can read the competition winner and runner-up.